§ucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
2011 Reserve Series Bottle Notes:
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 1500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

2014 Bottle Notes
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 3500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

Matured for 1 year in a blend of Heaven Hill, 4 Roses, and Old Fitzgerald barrels.

Added by SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008

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Reviews: 864 | Ratings: 4,896
Photo of 1Adam12
4.38/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark mahogany color. Strong nose. Lots of vanilla and caramel, bourbon, alcohol. Tastes very good. Vanilla and carmel, quite a bit of bourbon. Nice balance. The bourbon doesn't dominate to dissipate the flavors from the barleywine. Very creamy and full. Slightly carbonated, possibly over carbonated IMO. Overall this was very good. I love that it is balanced and that the bourbon doesn't dominate. My main quarrel with BA barleywines is that the oak and bourbon take away from the flavors of the beer itself. This is nice.

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Photo of bonkers
4.77/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured from a bomber into a snifter, dark black pour with a slight white head, light lacing. The aroma has notes of oak , and vanilla, and a ton of dark fruit. The beer was definitely fruity(figs and dates), oak, vanilla, and a pleasant amount of booziness. It has a lingering fruity finish. The beer is full bodied, nice carbonatin and easy drinking for the ABV. An exceptional brew.

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Photo of xpimptastikx
3.76/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown, ruby highlights, thin sheet of off white head.
S - Brown sugar, raisins, and alcohol.
T - Molasses, vanilla, figs, leather, and alcohol.
M - Creamy carb and dry, with a warming sensation.
O - A slight let down. The nose is pretty one dimensional, and the alcohol is detected pretty easily. Definitely not the best BA English Barleywine, but pretty good.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.09/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle, batch 001.

Pours a dark mahogany/red with a super small head, basically just some light lacing around the rim. Nose is boozy, malty, rich dark fruit its sweet and earthy.

Taste is amazing, smooth and crisp, not boozy at all, butterscotch all day on the finish, it's rich and complex, dark fruits and candidate sugar flavors, oaky vanilla notes as well, very good.

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Photo of hdelavega
4.79/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one was sent to me by BeerThursdays, thanks Jay.
Poured to a snifter, deep brownish red almost a plumb color it held a half finger light tan head for about a minute that dissolved thin film and then to nothing.
Very rich aroma. Very sweet, dark fruits, burnt sugar and carmal. Just a little bit of alcohol.
First sip is I get a lot of sweet flavors blended together. Lots of sweet malt, tart strawberry, tiny bit of bitterness there is defiantly some alcohol in the finish which is paired with oak flavors.
Mouth feel is super smooth, silky, the flavors really envelop the entire mouth.
Overall this is a fantastic beer, defiantly the best barleywine I've had to date.

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Photo of NickRivers
4.92/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A&S - Pours a unique brownish ruby, with a bubbly thin tan head that pleasantly sits on top. Smells of dark malt, alcohol, woodiness, dark cherry, little raisin, nice vanilla, toffee, as well as a few spices.

T&M - Hits super sweet, and immediately you get that dark fruit, cherry vanilla flavor that builds to a wonderful woody alcohol burn that forms this amazing mouthgasm. Very nice alcohol burn and pretty heavy body. After taste is smokey, a little chocolate and toffee, but mostly that bourbon flavor which seems a little too much after a while.

O - Definitely a amazing sipper. Im not a Hard Liquor guy, but if I ever was, this would be my go to beer. I'm gonna cellar one of these as well, however I don't think i'll make it till then. Get you hands on one of these! They're amazing. Top 5 beer for sure! Cheers!

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Photo of rhong187
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

served in a pint glass at Capone's (notes taken from 2011 Philly beer week)

A - Despite the ABV, still retained a nice finger head that held nicely. dark caramel like color...

S - toffee, caramel, vanilla, with a miniscule amount of spice followed with a decent amount of alcohol.

T - sooo unbelievably smooth. the sweetness hits you right away, followed by a small bit of warming as it goes down.. Whew, this stuff can be dangerous with it's smoothness. Along the way, I can detect a bit of leather as well.. a very pleasurable mesh of flavors.

M- Medium bodied, with just enoughb carbonation.

Easily the best barleywine I've had to date, and another fantastic offering from FW. I'd suggest pciking it up while you can (still see some bottles floating around in SE PA)... cheers

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Abacus is a barrel aged Barley Wine. Four barrels in total were selected for the blend. The base of this year’s offering was aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels for 3 years! The resulting beer is strong yet extremely elegant and smooth. Big boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combined with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors framed in oak, with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry. This is definitely a sipping beer and one of my favorite barleywines next to Old Numbskull.

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.28/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

not sure who brought this, but thanks.

pour was a dark brown with hints of deep ruby. light creamy head. thick body, slight coating on glass.

very rich with sweetness and dark fruit. fairly strong vanilla and oak which blended well together.

very dominant bourbon which was smooth and rich. big dark fruits and sweet malts. lots of vanilla and rich vibrant oak.

very thick with a smooth velvety feel. some heat on the gums.

this was a delicious barleywine, much better than i anticipated.

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Photo of amphion1065
3.98/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into a Duvel tulip. Reviewed from notes.

Initially, this pours a nearly opaque deep ruby or garnet. But as I slowly made my way to the bottom of the glass, the beer appeared a fairly translucent reddish-brown. Half-finger light brown head filled with loose bubbles lasted less than a minute. A surprising amount of suspended yeast at the bottom of the bottle.

The smell is a rather musky collection of dark fruits. Plums and toffee, with just a little bit of caramel. Curiously, there's not too much barrel presence in the aroma. A touch of wood, maybe some coconut and vanilla, but it's light. Little to no alcohol phenols coming off of this one.

The taste departs significantly from the aroma in a very positive way. There's a ton of booze in this beer, and it is hot going down. The -bal isn't overpowering, but there is a very strong woody character in play. Given how malty this beer is, the barrel-aging does wonders for balance. Prunes, cherries and toffee are all present, but this beer never seems cloying.

The mouthfeel is excellent - I wish all barleywines went down like this. Smooth and rich, with an appropriately low level of carbonation.

I suppose you can't judge a beer by its nose. What at first seemed like a potential letdown turned out to be an excellent barleywine. Though they're obviously quite different styles of beer, Abacus and Parabola are both very barrel-dominant - I think this is the more successful of the two, as the imparted flavors complement the base beer very well. I'll be curious to see if this improves down the road.

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Photo of acemathew
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great dark pour.

Awesome head retention.

Smells like figs and prunes. Tons of ethanol on the nose. Perfectly aged smells a little oxidized. Smells smokey and nutty malty with a swirl definite chocolate.

Good balance nice mouthfeel not to bitter not too sweet not too oakey. This is much better than this same beer I had on tap at the Buelton tasting room. Tastes a little hot but what do you expect from 13%?

Good finish nice and clean.

Not too smokey not too oakey not too much hops but not very malty either.

Overall very good.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.96/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this 3 times or so now. Each time is almost a different experience, but the first bottle I had at a tasting provided by boatshoes stuck out as the worst of the lot. I'm not sure what is going on here, but this beer is far from consistent.

This is a pretty dark barleywine. Its a deep, burnt ruby with a wispy gray head that throws droopy lacing. The beer looks thick, showing good veining on the glass.

The oak is fairly dominate here. Its damp, time worn and bourbon soaked. I can pick up a little notion of pollen or hay dust as well. Caramel, smoothed over by vanilla should be the dominate aroma, but instead is secondary. The bourbon smells spicy, almost like its a rye whiskey instead.

The taste leads off with that spicy bourbon which is smoothed over by the team of caramel and vanilla. Wood isn't as dominate here, but it is lending it's musty essence.

This beer is obviously fairly warm, but it is toned back and well incorporated. This is a sugary beer with a gritty, heavy body that is near impossible for the low carbonation to cut through.

This beer ranged from a let down to quite good. I had very high hopes for this one though, and it turns out that it didn't quite live up to them. Still though, this is an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of CaptainTripps
4.12/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: The beer poured a dark brown (maybe a dark ruby?). It came with a small (half a fingers worth) white head that dissipated quickly. Left minimal lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Big time aromas coming from this beer. Could smell waves of caramelized malt with huge whiskey and vanilla notes. Large alcohol notes coming through with burnt brown sugar and dark fruits. There is also hints of oak.

T: Bourbon bourbon bourbon. Huge booziness on the front followed closely with vanilla, bready malts and burnt sugar. I am also getting some dark fruits on the back end, but some what hard to identify with the large bourbon notes. Good amounts of oak apparent as well.

M: Medium to almost heavy mouth feel. Very silky mouth feel that goes down nicely. Beware though, that bourbon will kick you in the pants if your not ready for it. Very warming all the way down. A little hot, but thats how I like it.

O: A fantastic barrel aged barley wine that was very much enjoyed. Would love to come back to it with a little bit of age. The alcohol was strong, but that is to be expected. One of the better barrel aged barley wines I have had.

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Photo of aasher
4.3/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been wanting to try this for awhile but haven't found the right opportunity to open one. Well, as of 9pm tonight I'm on vacation for four days so the time is now. Thanks to Brian (BrewerB) for this bottle, which I received in a recent box.

This one pours a nice and rich cherried wood in color with a light and fizzy khaki colored head which quickly dissipated. The aromas consist of sweet and ripe dark fruits, figs, light bourbon, oak, vanilla, raisins, and port. It smells pretty good but I could use more bourbon. The flavors are almost exactly what I was looking for tonight. You get a lot of buttery biscuity malt (yet not as intense as a California Chardonnay), light bourbon, oak, vanilla, raisins, figs, and it has a rich and resonating after taste. The bourbon is a little more mellow than I anticipated but it's fine. Overall this is a fine beer and a pretty spectacular barrel aged barleywine. It's an instant favorite and probably my second favorite of the style to only the Mother of All Storms.

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Photo of mdvatab
4.12/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally getting to try this one! Bought for $20 at The Stable.
Opened the brown Abacus box for the first time, revealing a 22oz bottle with a sophisticated label noting "Batch One" and "2011".
Used a cabernet glass as my snifter.

Aroma: Mmmmm. Carmelized, malty goodness. Pineapple upside-down cake, vanilla, sweet whiskey, and a hint of the booze that awaits. Definitely one to contemplate.

Appearance: 1/2 finger head disappears quickly. This one's got legs, but minimal lacing. Body is brown-copper, but dark enough in color to make translucent.

Flavor: Mirrors the aroma profile. Again--sweet, delicious carmelized fruit and vanilla notes that you find in a pineapple upside-down cake. Whiskey flavor also comes through, but is a bit on the hot side yet. Really made me envision how much more fantastic this brew might be with a little more age.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body, medium-low carbonation. Peppery heat from the alcohol comes over the tongue, throat, and sinuses, and is reminiscent of a fortified wine.

Overall: A delicious barleywine that I was glad to have shared with a couple of friends. At 13%, it would have admittedly been a challenge to finish by myself. I can see why so many BA's rave about this one, and look forward to trying it again after it's been laid down for 3 or so more years.

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Photo of billab914
4.67/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured a dark, murky brown color with a thin white head sticking to the edges of the glass. The head faded to a thin ring after a minute or so, but fit the style pretty well overall.

The aroma really balances the barleywine and the bourbon flavors nicely. Both seem to come through equally and really compliment each other. I get a brown sugar, caramel, toffee, dark fruit character to the barleywine while the bourbon, vanilla and oak really add some depth and complexity to itl. fantastic aroma to it overall.

The taste really wowed me right from the first sip. Dark fruits mix with some brown sugar, vanilla, oak, and some fantastic bourbon flavors. Everything integrates perfectly in it, all the flavors shine at one time or another. The bourbony finish is very smooth and complimentary of the malty, sweet, caramel and brown sugar flavors. A little boozy heat in the finish, but fitting for a barrel aged barleywine. This is perfection for me in a barleywine.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being below average. It has a creaminess to it that really works well for it. Overall it was a fantastic beer, and probably the best of the style I've had. MOAS was great, but I liked this one a little more. It was so flavorful, smooth, and everything just works so well together. Fantastic beer overall, I loved it.

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Photo of Brew33
3.95/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received via trade with Azureoval (Thanks Josh).

Original review is of Abacus, a short footnote and recalculation for Sucuba: A lot of sharp alcohol flavor from Abacus is long gone in Sucuba. I don't know if the recipe changed at all but this version is much smoother and easier to drink. The barrel notes aren't quite as forward and integrated well into the beer. I certainly enjoyed this much more the 2nd time around.

Right out of the gates this beer is darker than I expected. A very dark brown with brick red edges when held to light.

The aroma starts off with bourbon.... a ton of it. Big whisky notes. Vanilla and coconut all over the place! Very sweet and hot. The aroma represents the flavor accurately. Bourbon all over. Ethyl alcohol is very present. The malt bill seems to get lost in the barrel somewhere. I get a lot of vanilla and cocnut in this beer. More so than in almost any other beer I've ever tasted that didn't have vanilla or coconut added. Drinking a bomber of this by yourself isn't really reccomended. It can become a bit much. Boozy, sweet, and surprisingly simple. Lacks a lot of the complexity I had hoped for. The mouthfeel is average for the style and the carbonation was adequate.

Overall, this is a good beer but I think it may have spent a little too much time in the barrel for my personal tastes. I look for a spirit barrel to be part of a beer, not take it over. And unfortunately for me, that was not the case here. If you like you bal aged beers to be bal forward, this is your stuff.

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Photo of readbaron
4.1/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich clear dark caramel/amber brown with light white carbonation. Darker than I was initially expecting. No lacing, and only a ring of foam.

Smell is straightforward - rich bourbon and sweet caramel, bready malts. Sweet and boozy. Caramel, vanilla, oak, and burnt sugar are all present. Not terribly complex, but quite nice.

Taste follows the nose - smooth, despite the alcohol and bourbon kick. Tons of caramel sweetness and bourbon with subtle bready malts, vanilla, and toffee in the background. Very straight forward flavor profile.

Feel - medium bodied and a bit thinner and drier than I would have thought. Quite nice.

Overall, a very tasty beer - sweet and boozy, but not overwhelmingly so. A lovely slow sipper.

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Photo of camil1mj
4.53/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at room temprature into my Bruery snifter.

A: Very dark, dark brown. Very little amount of thin head consisting of large bubbles.

S: Lots of wonderful malts, caramel and booze.

T: This one has lots of laywrs. It starts with a caramel sweetness and then gives way to wonderul oak and bourbon notes. It finishes with a nice maltiness.

M: Medium to full body with an appropriate amound of carbonation.

O: So glad I traded for a 2nd bottle. Now I have another one to try somewhere down the road.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.97/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle generously given and shared by Huhzubendah. Thanks Matt!

Pours a brilliant brown w/ orange highlights and a sliver of a chocolate head. Very little carbonation or lacing, which is expected at a 13% ABV beer. Excellent for the style. Very port-like in appearance. Nose is nothing short of amazing! Malt, chocolate, toffee, some faint fruit, and very mild alcohol smell, oak. bourbon. There's no way the nose gets any better than it is. Wow. Taste is very similar profile. Unbelievable! It's so smooth and drinkable I can't believe it's a 13% beer. Alcohol is almost completely masked in the taste. This is truly one of the best beers I've ever had the privilege of tasting. If you have the opportunity to try this, RUN, don't walk, and pick up as much as you can fit in your car. Undoubtedly a world class beer, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to try it. Cheers!

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Photo of Treebs
4.47/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split this with my Dad at the family Labor Day party. It was the first cold day after Summer and just screamed to be opened. Bottled 2/18/2011. Bomber poured in a cervoise goblet.

A: Pours a dark mahogany with the slightest light tan head popping up in the pour. That quickly leaves to a ruby hued bubbling mass.

S: There are so many great smells wafting out of my glass right now. Great dark fruits, some raisins, figs, and dates, with the nice woodiness of the barrel shining through. There is a slight vanilla sweetness and a little boozy back.

T: The taste is like the nose, but much better. The barrel comes through much more with a great oakiness and sweet vanilla combination. The dark fruits I smelled are present here as well, but take a back seat to everything else going on. There is heat present from the alcohol, but it is wonderfully integrated and not overpowing in the least bit. It finishes with a light, semi-sweet chocolate.

M: Medium to heavy bodied. This is very smooth and has a great coating quality that leaving you wanting more. There is little carbonation, but it's a perfect amount. Very warming on the way down.

O: This lived up to my expectations indeed. I've read the threads about this fading and I just laughed as I was drinking this. To me it was great and the combination of flavors, especially the barrel qualities, really did this for me. I'm glad I've got some more in the cellar.

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Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one kenm1228, cheers Ken

Pours a chill-hazed chestnut with a pinky of khaki colored head. Nice viscosity with minimal lacing & no head retention

S: Vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit (cherries), a bit of booze

T: Follows the nose, rich cakeyness to go with some butter rum notes as well up front. Jammy notes mix with raisins & figs as this warms, along with dryness, some woody & herbal hop presence as well. Finishes dry, fruitty, with some rich oaky notes

MF: Chewy, low carbonation, nice balance, warming booze there as well.

Started strong, but faded a bit as it warmed; still a keeper

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.42/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

There’s a monster in my glass, and its name is Abacus. Seriously, though, there’s almost too much extravagance surrounding this beer. From the forum hype to the bottle-in-box packaging, this beer already has a lot going for it before I even open it; really, the expectations of epic-ness are big. Here’s to hoping Firestone-Walker delivers!

Bottled approximately six months before the date of this tasting (March 2011). Thanks again to tripelhops for making this legendary tasting possible.

A: A very, very dark ruby red. The body looks nearly jet black from a bird’s-eye view, only to reveal a gorgeous crimson when you look through the liquid at the bottom. The head is quite light – just about the same color as the label. The lovely eggshell cream looks weightlessly silky on top of the body, a fine powder above the darkness. Medium amount of lacing.

S: Big, big nose here. The alcohol is one of the most forward smells, starting strong with a hit of vodka-type booze. It’s not as unpleasant as it sounds, though. Some spices, especially cinnamon and ginger, move around beneath the alcohol, quickly followed up by some dark, fruity malts. These bubblegum, cranberry, raisin, fig, and warm brown sugar aromas are what take the nose to the next level. That, and the earthy tones of estery yeast, tobacco, and oak. A hugely complex nose, but all within the frame of super-booziness; hopefully it’s a bit tamer in the taste.

T: Incredibly sweet; there’s a bright sugariness that registers as soon as it hits your lips. Cherry candy, warm vanilla, sugarplum, honey, coconut, dark chocolate – they’re all products of the malt. Wow. Cinnamon is present, once again, but it’s only there for a moment; that is, right before you get a mouthful of barley. Full-on grain husk, with a big taste of grassy wheats. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that from something with such a high ABV; I thought the booze would just block it out. Very glad to see that you can still taste the beer’s most fundamental ingredients, though. At the back end, oaky booze comes in and, supported by a slight coffee profile, smoothes everything out. And for such an alcoholic beer, it’s pretty drinkable; it’s definitely not as striking and vodka-like as in nose. No other flavors come out after, leaving this one with an aftertaste of coffee, chocolate, and a bit of booze. It’s like a mix of tiramisu and rum-cake with chocolate drizzle. Decadent, rich, smooth – I know that I haven’t explored the diverse barleywine style very much, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that it will take a truly divine beer to beat this flavor profile.

M: Wow; so warming. Gentle, smooth, and with just the right amount of pop on the front end, it’s hard to tell that this is a 13% ABV brew. It’s almost like it’s showing off how light it can be, and honestly, the palate would be much more serious if the body were thicker. The fact that it isn’t is nice, though – it seems like a much less intimidating brew.

O: This is one of those beers that I didn’t really expect to love; big, boozy, sugar-bombs (i.e., DFH 120 Minute, Founders Devil Dancer, GI Night Stalker) just don’t sit well with me. This beer, though, has such a delicate approach to those flavors – I could really drink it all day. It isn’t my absolute favorite brew, or anything that I think I'd be craving, but it really is a gorgeous beer. Great job, Firestone-Walker – this is an incredible barleywine!

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Photo of kirok1999
4.77/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a murky dark brown with hints of garnet and a nice wispy head.
Smells dense. It seems a lot of English Barleywines have a thin nose. This thing jumps out of the glass and you know there's something solid in the glass. Sweet and caramely, raisins, dates, cotton candy. Wow.
Taste is every bit as great as the smell. Thick and rich, it coats the palate. Tons of dark fruit backed up by what must be a massive malt bill. Almost tastes like a stout...a nicely sweet one.
It's so dense and sweet, but the sweetness doesn't ruin it like it does some brews. A truly exceptional beer and one I wish I had regular access to.

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Photo of zhanson88
4.59/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, very dark plum color. If it weren't for the clarity, there would be slim chance of seeing through it. About 1/3" of khaki colored head forms, which has reasonable retention considering the ABV. Lacing is nonexistent, but the legs are pretty good.

Smell: Very nice smell. Initially what hits me is a ton of candied sugar, along with vanilla. Very sweet caramel malt and toffee. The barrel aging certainly shines through; I get some bourbon, but I can tell this beer was partially wine barrel aged. I get some dark fruit character (fig, a bit of raisin) that I believe is enhanced by the wine barrel aging. Very complex, and about as good as it gets to my nose.

Taste: Sweet toffee and caramel malts show first, as well as vanilla and brown sugar. Very sweet malt base, but very pleasant as well. On the back end, the barrels kick in. Some bourbon is present, but also fig and a bit of raisin. A touch of port character, even.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Body is between medium and full, and gets exponentially smoother as the beer warms towards room temperature. I have heard several people mention that there is a lot of variation in Abacus bottles; I will agree with this. I have had one other bottle before this and was not nearly as impressed. Interested to see how the others I have turn out. Overall though, this is an exemplary barrel aged barleywine. Very complex and well integrated flavors.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.46 out of 5 based on 4,896 ratings.
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